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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Magic Jack and Garden Updates

Magic Jack

So far so good on the Magic Jack, I did have a problem with it though, it seemed that I could not call the 2 main people I wanted to call, my Dad and sister. For some reason it would not complete calls to local numbers (in the 817 area code for me), I discovered this is a known issue according to an unofficial forum for the Magic Jack. When I would try to call my Dad or sister, it would ring 5-8 times then I would hear a fast busy signal then a dial tone. I could call any other numbers outside the 817 area code, I could also call any cell phone (didn't matter what area code). So I decided to contact MJ's customer service, it's all on line, I contacted a very nice cs person, I told him what the problem was and that I had already tried using the upgrade on their website (multiple times) and tried every USB port on my computer. I was afraid he would try to get me to do the upgrade again or make me go through some useless processes, I know the problem is on their end since the MJ works for other calls. He was very polite, asked me a few questions, got 3 phone numbers that will not work for me, then he said I would be getting an email in the next 24-48 hours about this matter. After that I went to the unofficial MJ forum, I posted a message about this to their tech section, I copied and pasted the transcript of the customer service contact, I asked if anyone else there had this problem and found a fix or a workaround.

I quickly received a reply from one of the members, he suggested using this format when I called, instead of calling 817284****, to call *678*17284****, IT WORKED! I was able to call my Dad directly, then I called my brother in law, I didn't try my sister's number, but I have no doubt it will work with her number too.

So even if MJ doesn't have a fix, I have a workaround so I am happy. It seems that the * codes (*67 and such) do not work on MJ's system, at least not the way they work on regular phones. I don't care, as long as I can call who I want. :)


Garden

Woohoo! I got my garden planted yesterday! I took my packets of seeds and started on one corner, I walked around and dropped the entire packets on the spaces where I wanted to plant them, then I took each packet and planted the seeds. I got them all planted and watered. I can't wait to see the little sprouts peeking up from the straw mulch, patients! Here is a list of what I have planted so far:
  • tomatoes
  • bell peppers
  • broccoli
  • 2 different lettuces
  • peas
  • corn
  • beans
  • summer squash
  • watermelon
  • malabar spinach
  • spinach
  • swiss chard
  • collards
  • carrots
  • beets
  • radishes
I plan on ordering a few other plants, purple okra and maybe some different tomatoes and such. The okra will grow very fast, it's practically a weed!


Be sure to complete the poll if you haven't yet, it's on the upper right of the page, this way I'll know what you want to see on this blog. :)

Thanks,
Wretha

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Got my Magic Jack

Got my Magic Jack today, it's been in the mailbox for a couple of days, but since it's a 12+ mile round trip on a rocky, dusty, dirt, washboard, up and down, in and out road, I don't get out there very often.

I hooked up the MJ and it installed fairly easily, there was the smallest of hiccups a couple of times, once was because my internet stalling out for a few seconds... anyhoo I got it running and started making phone calls, it works pretty well, one problem it has it for some reason it refuses to call certain numbers, it will ring and ring then I get a busy signal then a dial tone, I have found that when it is giving me trouble, if I call using the software instead of dialing the phone, it works a bit better. I am still testing it out, the sound quality is better than my cell phone.

For anyone who has my cell phone number and needs my new number, just email me and I'll give it to you.

Check out the poll on the blog, the upper right corner, complete the poll for me if you want to, thanks! :)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Thanks, Magic Jack and the Garden

First I want to thank everyone who joined the PTC sites from my links below, this will not only make money for you, it will help me tremendously, the money earned goes toward my internet expenses, it helps to keep me on line and posting here. :) If you have any questions about how to use the PTC sites, or want to know some tricks that I use to make more money (all LEGAL, I don't do anything that would jeopardize my membership), just drop me a note via email

wretha @ gmail . com (remove the spaces)

and I'll be more than happy to help. :)

Phone

I went ahead and ordered the Magic Jack, I figured it would be the best thing to do, if it works for me (and I hope it does), I can drop my cell phone and will not have that expense every month, I will have only one yearly charge for the phone service. The only problem with it so far is they do not have a local phone number for me, so I'll just get a phone number that is local for my friends and family back in the DFW area, that will not be any different from what I have now with my cell phone. The startup cost on it was about $50.00, that paid for the unit, the shipping and the first year's service. I did pay a bit extra to get the expedited shipping, I normally don't do that, but it gave me a tracking number so I will know when it gets to my mail box, we don't check our mail box very often, it's a 12+ mile round trip to the mailbox, on twisty, winding, up and down rocky dirt roads. MJ is giving a 30 day free trial, they don't charge your credit card until about day 31, I'm not sure if that is from the date ordered or the date delivered, either way I should know within a day or so when it shows up in my mail box so I can start using it as soon as possible. When we were in town the other day, I picked up a cheap corded phone, we left all of our phones in Irving when we moved, we didn't figure we would need them out here, my how things can change... :)


The Garden

We have been working hard on the garden to get it ready to plant, I wish I could have planted before now, but we didn't have the fencing complete, and I can't run the risk that something would get in and tear things up.

We just got back in from working on the fencing for the last couple of hours, we were putting up the chicken wire over the top to keep the birds out. We got most of it covered, we have to go back and buy more chicken wire, bummer... oh well, that just means another trip into town, that's not such a bad thing...

Got pix of the garden, don't laugh, this is going to feed us soon! :)

Ok, I know this isn't the garden, but I snapped a few pix of Bob and the new bedroom extension on the way to the garden.




This is the garden area, we are completely enclosing it to protect the veggies from the roving critters who would love to eat what I plant. We used concrete reinforcement wire around the fence posts, we used chicken wire over the top, the red panels on each end came from a Best Buy where I used to work, they were going from red wire panels to putty colored ones, (it showed less dust) so they were going to throw these away, I rescued them from the trash compactor. Along the bottom of the concrete wire, we are using fine mesh hardware cloth.







It's hard to see, but there is a layer of straw inside the garden area where I am going to plant, that is the Ruth Stout method of gardening, her No Work Garden book is a real gem, I highly recommend it.




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4 Comments

Anonymous the texan said...

I like your blog and your Mtn. home looks neat. How thick are you making the concrete walls?

April 22, 2008 12:48 PM

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Blogger Wretha said...

Hi the texan,

The walls are between 7 and 12 inches thick. Thanks for leaving a comment, I appreciate each and every one! :)

Wretha

April 22, 2008 2:05 PM

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Blogger HOLLIS said...

Wretha,
I saw the post about the auger. Something that might be a good care package from your family is the Garden Claw. I use it at my house. I works great. Just little tid bit, might help.

May 22, 2008 10:39 AM

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Blogger Wretha said...

Hi Hollis, yeah, I remember the commercials for the Garden Claw, they always demonstrated it on dirt that looked as if it didn't need tilling (grin), I guess it wouldn't have sold very well if they showed it on hard, rocky clay! I'm glad to hear it works great for you, how is your soil?

My dad is coming out this summer and is bringing me something that works great, a Mantis tiller, it's light weight and easy to use.

Wretha

May 22, 2008 12:51 PM

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Questions from a reader

One of the very nice ladies who reads my blog, asked me several very good questions, I thought I would copy the message here and answer them, I think they are the sorts of questions that other people might ask, they are certainly the kind of questions I would ask if I didn't live like this and had the opportunity to ask...

Hi Wretha, this is Marty.

I enjoy reading your b-log but I don't know where the guestbook is to sign it. You had asked if we would sign it so that you would know others are reading.

I wanted to ask you some questions about going off grid.

1. How do you get water? We have a well and though there's an electric pump on it I heard that we could get a solar well but the whole well has to be redone. I would also like to add a hand pump.

We do not have a well, it's way too expensive for us to even consider right now, so I get my water from my neighbor, he has a well and is extremely generous to us, we do things for him as well. We have a 300 gallon container, it used to hold fruit punch concentrate so it is food/water safe. We also have a 55 gallon drum inside the cabin, next to the sink, we have a 12 volt pump attached to it and the water faucet, when I turn on the faucet the pump comes on and I have running water, it lasts me about a week, maybe a week and a half if I'm careful. I use that water (inside the cabin) for washing dishes, hands and such, not for drinking. I go to my neighbor's house pretty much every day for drinking water, I carry it back in one gallon containers.

If we have to, we can get water from the community well, it's free to the residence out here, we can get as much as we want, but we have to get it back to our property, that was the original plan to get water from there, but since our neighbor turned out to be such a great guy, we get it from him for now.

2. How do you keep cool in the heat? I think I could go without a lot of things but not being able to keep cool I just can't. (also going through menopause!)

That's easy, it does get hot here, but the humidity is low, it's high desert on a mountain range, it is hot during the day, especially in the sun, but if you have any shade, it's comfortable, there is almost always a breeze too. The nights are cool year round, even in the hottest part of summer, as soon as the sun goes down, you start looking for something to cover your arms with.

3. Do you solar cook all the time or use a gas grill or bbq'r?

I do some solar cooking, but not as much as I'd like, making a better solar oven and other solar cookers is on the list of things we will do this summer. When it was cold enough to use the wood stove, I cooked on it, I made a makeshift oven on top and got pretty good at making biscuits, tortillas and such. Now we mainly use a 2 burner propane stove top. We got a stove and oven (propane) oven from a friend, it came out of an old travel trailer, we have to clean it up and make sure it works ok before I can use it though. No BBQ though, there is a burn ban on open fires until we get some rain, it is very dry out here and not worth the risk just to grill a few burgers.

4. How do you keep your food cold?

During the winter, we didn't have to worry about it much, we kept our cold foods in a 5 gallon bucket with a lid. Now we use a small cube refrigerator (dorm size), it doesn't hold much, but we can keep milk, cheese, and a few other things cold in it. It doesn't take much juice so it works with our little power system just fine.

5. How do you light your home?

We have regular compact florescent lights, we have some extra low voltage ones that we use most of the time, and the regular ones the rest of the time. Since we are in a small space, we don't require much lighting. We have 3 lights in the main area where we stay, one extra low wattage and one regular that is over the sink. We have another regular one over the mirror in the bathroom area, we have 2 lights outside, but only use them as necessary. These are all hooked up to the batteries through the inverter.

6. I see that you got internet connection. Congratulations. How did you plug your computer in?

I have a device that hooks up through a network cable, it's like super wifi, it works off an antenna that is across the valley from me on the other mountain top, it's a radio signal that is picked up on a small box attached to my cabin, there is a network cable that runs from that to a small box inside the cabin, then it goes into my computer, I have internet access as long as I have the box powered up (plugged in), I turn it off when I'm not using it to save power even though it doesn't use much power.

7. If you'd like you can post my questions in your b-log and then others who are wanting to know can read your replies also.

Thanks!

8. What do you do about washing clothes?

Again, I use my neighbor's facilities, but if I didn't have that available to me, I can use the RV park's facilities that is not too far from me, they have showers too, but again, I have been very lucky to have such a good neighbor. We originally planned on (and still may do this in the future) hooking up our washer to use and hanging the clothes to dry.

9. How do you feel now about being off grid? Is it harder than you thought?
Is it a good feeling?

I love it, I wouldn't want to go back. It is hard, but not harder than I though it would be, in many ways it's easy, I have electricity just like you, the only difference is I generate it right here, I do have to be conscious of using power, I can't go off and leave things running, I can't run everything at once, if we use power tools during the day, then we have to be aware that we probably will not be able to watch videos on the internet all night, if the night is cold and we don't have wood cut for the wood stove, we can use our small electric blanket, but if that happens, I know that I can't use the computer all night, we have learned from trial and error what we can and can't do, and so far, we have done very well and are very happy with the setup.

We did give things up to live like we live, things like microwaves, big appliances, these are all energy wasters. We gave up convenience stores, gave up close by stores, we can't go to Walmart in the middle of the night, we can't eat fast food any time we want. Just going to the mailbox is a 12+ mile round trip, on up and down, in and out, dirt roads. But the things we gained far outweighs the things we gave up, we gave up the noise, pollution, stress and danger of living in the city. We gained safety, security, quiet, clean air, healthy living... we don't hear cars honking, car alarms, slamming doors, our neighbors, our neighbor's kids... we gained some really good friends, though we did leave some really good friends (and family) behind, we hope to get some or them (all of them!) to move out here where we live, I know that is not realistic, but the invitation is open, if nothing else, we have a great place for them to come vacation. :)

Thanks for any help/tips you can give.

My biggest tip is to not wait too long, often times we want to do something, but we put it off, we wait until we have more money, time, energy, whatever it is, or we are afraid to take the big step, whatever the problem is, don't wait, start NOW, you aren't getting any younger, and you probably aren't getting any richer living where you are now, just DO IT, live your dream, you will not regret it, when you are on your death bed, are you going to regret not taking the plunge or are you going to be happy with your life as you lived it? No one ever wishes they have worked more hours (at a regular job) or wishes they had made more money. Go for it, do it, don't wait, it's OK to be scared, it's not OK to let that fear stop you, in baseball, you will miss 100% of the balls if you never take a swing.

God bless,
Marty

Thanks Marty for your great questions, if you have any more, or want more clarification of what I posted above, please don't hesitate to contact me again and ask, ask all you want, I am more than happy to answer your questions.

Wretha
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2 Comments

Blogger lindy said...

Wretha! I cannot agree MORE with not waiting! There will NEVER be a perfect time to live off-grid.

I spent a cold winter in the bus, but I do not regret it at all. I am even more convinced that this is the life for me :) I love being responsible for myself .. if I do not make a fire there is no heat, if I do not charge the dvd player or the batteries, there is no entertainment. Everything in life comes with a price, but in the standard American culture we become so removed from that. I'll take independence and looking out my windows any day. I get to live where I want to live and how I want to live and it is a slice of heaven. Take care. I'm glad I know ya .

Lindy

April 27, 2008 10:46 PM

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Blogger Wretha said...

Thanks Lindy, I love your statement that there will never be a perfect time to live off grid! I think I'll incorporate that into a title of one of my future posts. I think it's so sad that people wait for this, that, whatever to be or happen, there will never be enough time, money or you fill in the blank, I am so glad I did this, my ONLY regret is that I didn't do this earlier in my life.

I am glad I know you as well, thanks for your group, it is a wellspring of knowledge, humor and probably lots of other stuff I can't think of right now. :) You are the best!

Wretha

April 27, 2008 11:41 PM

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Paying For My Internet Habits

Updated March 13, 2011

Blatantly asking for your help, if you want to... :)

Before I moved out here, I checked on ways to make money on line, all I wanted to do was make enough to pay for my internet habits (ISP, domains, hosting...). A few months before we moved, I found a way to earn money from clicking ads on websites. Not just any websites though, these sites are called "PTC" or "Pay To Click" sites, these sites basically pay you to click on ads, the ads usually open up in a new tab or window and you have to keep that tab or window open for 30 seconds (some less, some more), many of them then ask you to type in a randomly created code, or ask you to click on a link to close the window, this proves you kept the ad page opened for the requested length of time. Generally you get paid a penny (1 cent) per ad, some pay even better than that, 1.5 to 2 cents per ad, some do email ads (they send the ad to your email address) and those usually pay more, up to 5 cents per ad.

I have all the PTC sites I belong to bookmarked, I open each on in a new tab (I use Firefox, you can do the same thing with Explorer), I sign in to each one, them I click on an ad for the first one, it opens in a new tab, then I go to the second PTC site, I click on an ad, it opens up in a new tab, I continue doing this until I have cycled through all the PTC sites I belong to, then I go to the first ad tab that opened up, by then, usually the timer has counted down, I do actually look at the page, the advertiser did just pay you to actually look at their site so it's only fair to them to look at the page. Then I do whatever is required to prove I looked at the page, some ask you to click on something to close the page, some ask you to type in a randomly generated code, some just say the time is up, you can close the window/tab. I do that for each ad that is opened, then I repeat the whole thing until no more ads are available to be clicked on. Some of the PTC sites have lots of ads to click on each day, some not as much, I check these sites each time I get on the internet, once the ads are exhausted, I refresh the page from time to time to check and see if there are any new ads to click on. Some of these sites also have other ways to make money, many of them have paid surveys, some have paid offers (some free, some require payment, I only do the free ones UNLESS it's something I would have been buying anyhow).

Getting paid a penny (plus or minus) per ad doesn't sound like much, but believe me, it adds up over time, these sites pay out once you reach a certain dollar amount, some as low as $5 to $10, some make you wait until you accumulate $40 or more. The trick is to sign up for multiple sites and use tabs on Windows Explorer or Firefox to run multiple sites at the same time, the other way to earn more money is to get people to sign up on these sites using you as a reference, the really good sites will pay you 50% or 100% of what your referrals earn.

This is where you come in, if you are someone who surfs the internet (the more time you spend on line the better), and you are interested in making some extra money (and help me at the same time), use the links I post below and sign up for these PTC sites, you can do this at the same time you are surfing on the internet, if you decide you don't like it, you can always stop.

Oh, I forgot to say, these sites are FREE to join, now most of them do have upgraded memberships that cost to join, I have paid to upgrade my membership on some of them, and it has been worth it, it usually gets you more ads to click on and usually means you get paid more per click. I have been paid by most of the ones I belong to, I used to belong to over 40 of these types of sites, but a lot of them paid in fractions of a cent, not worth my time, I quit going to most of them and focused on the ones that paid at least a penny per ad, AND actually paid out.

I suggest getting a separate email address and use it for these sites, I use Gmail, you can use Hotmail or another web based email account. You will also need to get a PayPal account if you don't have one yet, some of them will pay with checks too, you just need to check out how they pay.

Here are the ones I belong to and use on a daily basis.

Adbux doesn't exist anymore, I'm leaving this in the hopes they will come back.
http://adbux.org/?r=TreasureGift
Been paid 2x, I am an upgraded member (I paid to be upgraded), they used to pay out via PayPal, but now they send payments through another company that works like PayPal, it seems that PP is getting away from the PTC sites, I didn't want to use this other company at first, but since I have been paid by Adbux, I didn't want to lose out on this one, so if you choose to sign up for Adbux (and I highly recommend it).
The minimum payout is $10.00

http://www.clixsense.com/?2111898
Been paid once 2x, they send checks, I am an upgraded member, it's WORTH it to upgrade with this one, if you only upgrade with one PTC site, this is the one to do, upgraded members get more ads, when I upgraded, it took me nearly a week to click on all the ads that appeared. My upgrade is about to expire, I WILL be paying to upgrade again. The minimum payout is $10.00

http://hits4pay.com/members/index.cgi?TreasureGift
I just reached my first payout but haven't been paid yet, I expect to receive payment any time, they pay through PayPal. They give you a signup bonus of $10.00 to start out with. Their minimum payout is $25.00

http://wordlinx.com/?r=11956
I haven't reach payout with them yet, but I'm close, they pay through PayPal, their minimum payout is $10.00.

http://www.inboxdollars.com/?r=treasuregift
I've been paid once through them, they send email ads, surveys, paid offers, games, lots more. The minimum payout is $30.00, they pay by check. You are automatically upgraded once you receive your first payment, you do not have to pay anything to be an upgraded member.




There are lots of other PTC sites to join, but beware of those who have not been around very long, it's easy to create one of these sites, but if the owner is not good at what they do, they may go down, it usually happens when you are close to payout (grrrr!), that has happened to me, that's why I have narrowed my PTC memberships to those who have actually paid and have been around for a while (and are stable).

If you do plan on joining these, please do it through the links above, I get credit for you joining under me, you will make more money if you get people to sign up under you. One thing I did was trade out with my sister, I would join up on some first and get her to sign up under me, and some I would get her to join first then I would join under her, that way we both benefited from each other.
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3 Comments


Anonymous Anonymous said...
Wretha, I'm not into this stuff, but I have a friend who might be. I sent a link to this post to her. TheMajor'sLady www.lornkanaga.livejournal.com
April 20, 2008 7:38 PM
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Blogger Wretha said...
Thanks The Major'sLady! I appreciate it very much. :) Wretha
April 20, 2008 7:59 PM
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Blogger Wretha said...
Thanks to everyone who has joined up through my link to the PTC sites, every little bit helps. :) Wretha
April 20, 2008 8:00 PM

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lost, Taxes & Internet

Lost

I have spent the last 2 days catching up on one of the few TV shows I watch, Lost, I used to watch this show every week with my Dad, it is "our" show. I think about my dad as I watch the show, it makes me happy and sad at the same time. Anyhoo, wow! That show is getting weirder and weirder each season, for those of you who watch that show, you understand what I am talking about. I just finished watching the episode where Kate gets out of jail and goes home to her baby, I was wondering if the baby was Jack's or James' baby, when I saw the blond hair, I thought, yeah it's James', then she called the baby Aaron, that pretty much means it's belongs to neither of them. I'll wait until this evening to watch the rest of the shows, I think there is 2 maybe 3 more to go then I'll be caught up, it's hard to tell exactly how many are left the way ABC does their shows, each show is duplicated once, the original show, and an enhanced version, the enhanced version has, hmmm what do I call it, subtitles? Not for what the actors are saying, but it sort of states what is going on, so and so is lying, Hurley's driving the car (this was stated before you could see the driver), I watched one show like that, and I decided I didn't like it, I don't want to know what is happening before it happens, it's worse than sitting beside someone in a theater who announces what is about to happen before it happens, I LIKE the suspense. :)

Taxes

I did my taxes on line last night, blah! It took me about 3 or 4 hours to complete them, I used to be able to do the simple form, but not this time, it was more complicated, but I got it done and I'm glad it's done, I'm glad I was able to do it on line, and I'm glad I was able to do it at my cabin instead of somewhere else.

Internet Update

I checked the speed of my connection today:

4-15-08
4:14 pm
Download Speed: 2194 kbps (274.3 KB/sec transfer rate)
Upload Speed: 467 kbps (58.4 KB/sec transfer rate)

5:43
Download Speed: 1591 kbps (198.9 KB/sec transfer rate)
Upload Speed: 349 kbps (43.6 KB/sec transfer rate)

It tends to vary from time to time, but wow! I can't complain a bit about the speed.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I'm In - I'm On - I'm Happy!!!!

I'm soooo excited, I am writing this from MY cabin on MY internet connection, I am soooo happy! The installers, a very nice couple, locals who live close by came out this morning, I met them at the road and directed them to my neighbor's driveway, walking up to our cabin from his house is much easier. It took about half an hour to hook it up, it's a very small box on the outside of the cabin, we have a perfect line of sight to the tower from the cabin, I tested the speed and it shows:

Download Speed: 1759 kbps (219.9 KB/sec transfer rate)
Upload Speed: 1455 kbps (181.9 KB/sec transfer rate)

Download Speed: 2208 kbps (276 KB/sec transfer rate)
Upload Speed: 364 kbps (45.5 KB/sec transfer rate)

I tested it 2 times to see what it would do, I'm pretty happy with the connection. The first thing we did was go to wbap.com and listened to Rush Limbaugh, Bob has been really missing his daily Rush fix ever since we moved out here. You should see the smile on his face! Plus we get to hear the local news for the DFW area, tonight I will listen to Coast to Coast am, I haven't been able to hear that since we moved here either, I promise I will be smiling just as big as Bob when I hear George Noory or whoever is hosting the show tonight... :) :) :)


Bob is working outside the window, he is painting the deck that will be the floor of our bedroom, hopefully he will have the bedroom finished by this weekend. I'll post more pix when it's completed.
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5 Comments

Blogger Dragon said...

Woo Hoo!
I gotta find out if a similar service is offered up where my cabin is located... One can only hope. Dragon

April 14, 2008 1:18 PM

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Anonymous Susie said...

How wonderful that you will be able to get online anytime you want.
Happy for you,
Susie

April 14, 2008 3:27 PM

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Blogger Wretha said...

I could see the tower across the valley on the other mountain top from me, I didn't know exactly what it was for, but I thought (hoped) it may be internet related, I had been asking around about it but no one seemed to know anything about it. It was apparently from a previous (now defunct) internet provider, I'm glad someone took it over and started new service. We have been listening to streaming radio and now streaming music, it's great.

I hope you can get hooked up, it's so much better than satellite or dial up.

Wretha

April 14, 2008 3:27 PM

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

We expect a lot more postings now you know! :)

April 15, 2008 10:36 AM

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Blogger Wretha said...

I know! Believe me, I'll be posting a LOT more... :)

Wretha

April 15, 2008 1:25 PM


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Great News!

I can't wait for Monday, that is not something you normally hear from most people, Monday usually means the end of the weekend (free time) and the start of the work week, blah! But for me, Monday, this particular Monday will be a very happy day, why you ask? Because I am finally getting INTERNET hooked up at my cabin WOO HOO!

This was something I researched quite a bit before we moved out here, I found out that my choices were limited, I could get satellite (EXPENSIVE to start up and maintain, require at least a year contract, not as fast as I would like, unreliable, AND they meter your bandwidth which means no streaming videos, movies or large downloads), or I could get dial up (means the expense of getting a phone line, and toooo slow), there were no other options at the time. I have relied on my neighbor since I've gotten here to check my email and do a few things on line, he uses satellite and he doesn't like it either, too expensive and not as reliable as it should be.

The other day at the store, I saw a notice on the board about a new internet out here, it's run by locals, the start up costs are reasonable, and the monthly fees are reasonable, about half what satellite runs! And there are no contracts. It's not satellite or dial up, it's a microwave signal, we are right across the valley from the tower, line of sight thing, that means our connection should be good. According the the people hooking us up, it's by far faster then satellite, much more reliable, no delays, and the best thing, no bandwidth metering! I can download/upload as much as I want! I told them up front that I am a bandwidth hog, I like to watch streaming movies and TV shows, I surf and download quite a lot, they said that was no problem, woo hoo! Can you tell that I am happy about this???

If this works out like I hope it will, I will get phone service through the internet and will drop my cell phone, it barely works out here, and eventually I will not be able to keep the current plan I have anyhow, I am still using the employee plan where I used to work, once my cell phone carrier finds out I no longer work there, they will not allow me to keep that plan, I figured I would have to let my phone go at that point anyhow, if I can get a good (cheap or free) phone service through the internet, that would work out better for me.

Anyone have any suggestions for online phone services, low cost or free? Or are there any I should stay away from? Please let me know. Thanks!

Hopefully the next time I post a message here, it will be from MY cabin on MY internet connection. They are supposed to come over Monday between 9 and 10 am, the installation should be quick and easy, and it will work with our power system with no problems. Now, I have to go home and clean up the cabin, it's not too bad, but being such a small space, a little clutter looks much worse than it really is. :)
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4 Comments

Anonymous Susie said...

Wretha,
That is such great news.
Congratulations and have fun.
Susie in northern NY
(GT Xpress 101 yahoo group member)

April 13, 2008 6:35 PM

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Blogger Wretha said...

Thanks Susie, I'm very excited about it, I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. :)

Wretha

April 13, 2008 6:45 PM

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Sounds like you are getting access via WiMax. Very cool. Keep us informed as to how it works out for you, please.

There are two major versions of VoIP (voice over IP, or internet protocol). The first is very low cost but requires a computer to act as the base station, and the handset plugs into the USB port. Skype is the best known vendor of this type. The advantages are lower cost, easily take it anywhere you can take your laptop and plug into the internet. The disadvantage is that it only works through a computer, so it has to be on and in a convenient location if you want to receive calls. Probably best for making calls and less convenient for receiving unless your computer is always on. My daughter has this as she is overseas in the military and is great when she is away from home. Because you are going directly from computer to computer or phone system there is no buffering of the signal so Skype voice service can sound choppy sometimes.

The second form of VoIP is like that offered by Vonage and AT&T CallVantage. In this form you have a telephone adapter plugged into your cable modem or router, and a regular phone plugs into the adaptor. This makes it easy toi use the whole variety of phone handsets designed for the broad home system market. We have CallVantage for the last several years and use cordless phones which run several hours without any power just their internal batteries, but do require recharging periodically.

This second type of VoIP sends a signal to the VoIP vendor who does buffer the call and manages its signal quality. We have excellent sound quality over cable internet (about 300K bps), and it has never gone down. Our cable connections goes down a couple of times per year, but CallVantage has complete set of services such as online answering machine, call forwarding, call filtering, caller ID, and many other options which you can manage via their web page.

I think Vonage is about $25/mo, and CallVantage is about $35/mo. Skype is free between Skype users, and about two cents per minute (and $3/mo) to connect to land line and cell phones.

- Jeff

April 13, 2008 11:48 PM

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Blogger Wretha said...

Thanks Jeff, I have been learning about voip and the other options, I'm looking for CHEAP or free, I have a couple of companies in mind, Skype is one, the other one is Magic Jack.

Wretha

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Rocket Stoves and More...

I found this site while looking for rocket stove info, there is a great video with detailed instructions on how to build a rocket stove, these stoves will burn smaller twigs, something I have lots of on my property, you can use less fuel, it's clean and I hope to be able to use one to at least boil water, something we do a lot to make coffee and such. This site also has the Humanure Handbook and other great info, all free!

http://weblife.org/

I plan on making a rocket stove in the near future, Bob has not been very excited about it though, he doesn't think it will be "all that" or work as good as I think it will, I still want to make one though. I showed him the video and he saw that I am really interested in it, so he said to remind him next time we are in town so we can get the parts necessary to build it. I can't wait!
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2 Comments

Blogger Dragon said...

I have a few pictures of my portable rocket stove over at my blog.
http://circleoftheoroborous-dragon.blogspot.com/2008/04/barter-anyone.html
The pictures are of the smallest of the rocket stoves I've made. A few small sticks for fuel and it boils my morning coffee.
Bob sounds handy enuff to get one really cooking. You can tell him for me he will be surprised at how well they work.
feel free to email me with any questions about the stoves and I help all I can...Dragon

April 13, 2008 7:35 PM

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Blogger Wretha said...

Thanks Dragon, I just read it on your blog, I know Bob can make one for me, he has agreed to make one for me, we just have to collect the stuff to make it, I have no doubt it will become a well used part of my kitchen, since the weather has gotten warmer, I am not using the wood stove to cook on, so we have been using propane, something we don't want to have to rely on. I found a set of plans for a rocket stove bread oven, I really want to start baking bread again, I'm pretty good at it, it may even make us some extra "dough" too... :) You also gave me an idea about selling rocket stoves too, thanks!!!

Wretha

April 14, 2008 1:15 PM



Thursday, April 3, 2008

Chandeliers in the Trees and More Cabin

04-02-08

Today, actually it was yesterday as this is being typed after midnight (grin), yes I do tend to be a night owl at times, anyhoo, it was a good day, we had planned on going into Alpine, it's a bit of a drive, but that is where the closest dentist is located. Bob had a dental appointment, on the way out of the neighborhood, we stopped at the country store and talked to a few people, the store owner found out we were going into town and offered to let us use her minivan, we greatfully accepted, our bug is running a bit rough, it needs some work, it's fine for running around the neighborhood, at worst, if we break down, there will be someone along in pretty short order to give us a ride home :) We took the van and started out, I forgot to grab my keys so we didn't have the mailbox key, bummer, oh well, it will just have to wait... We drove to Alpine, got to the dentist, Bob talked to him a bit, we are trading some artwork for payment, it's a bronze sculpture that Bob's mom made, it is very nice! It seems he liked it, he did say he usually collects paintings and drawings, not so much in sculpture, but he seemed to accept the deal, we made another appointment and left.

We took advantage of being in a town with actual stores (!) to make some purchases, we went to a Family Dollar store and stocked up on items we can't get where we live, ok I exaggerate, we could get some of these items in our local grocery store, but it would cost quite a lot more and we wouldn't have had the same selection. We spent over $100 there, but we came out with bags and bags of food, next we went to the lumber yard and got some building material. After that, we stopped at McDonald's, yes, I know it's really bad for you to eat, but I haven't had any kind of "fast food" since before we moved out here in December, and I was soooooo ready to eat a greasy burger and fries! I did get a side salad to go with my artery clogging cheeseburgers and small fries, I drank water too, no soft drinks for me, I gave them up years ago, if I drink on now, it's just too much, too many bubbles, to strong a flavor, it assaults my mouth, so I don't miss that at all, I don't know how I drank them before, yuck!

After that we drove home, went by our place to drop off the booty, and took the van back, I am so thankful to have had the use of that van, our bug probably would have made it just fine, but it was still nice to drive in a more modern, luxurious vehicle. I'd better not rag too much on the bug, Bob might read this, and he is really attached to the bug, I'm not complaining about it at all, I wouldn't have anything else out here, but we would not have been able to get the building materials in the bug, so that made it worth it right there.

Pix

I took some more pix around the cabin, the first set are chandeliers that are hanging around in the trees outside the cabin, it would just be silly to have chandeliers hanging inside the cabin. ;)

The next ones are of Bob building the addition to the cabin. This space will be our bedroom, this will nearly double the size of the cabin. We will be able to entertain guests too, the space where our bed is now will be cleared to be used as a living/dining room.


Now it's time to stop typing, I am having to fight the moths over the computer, since it's the brightest thing in here right now, they are fluttering around the screen and landing on the keyboard, I have to push them out of the way, and one just went up my sleeve, ok that is enough, time to turn this off and go to bed. Gotta go tomorrow in the country store, did I mention that I love it there?!














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4 Comments

Blogger lindy said...

Hey Wretha! It is great to see how things are coming along at your place! How fantastic to get an addition to your cabin so soon!

love and hugs
Lindy

April 6, 2008 10:59 AM

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Blogger Wretha said...

Thanks Lindy! I am sooo looking forward to having more space, I was used to living tight before, we had an ancient single wide mobile home, 14x70, we joked about living inside a submarine, that would seem roomy to us now! :) Fortunately we get along very well, even in the tight space.

Wretha

April 6, 2008 7:41 PM

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Blogger Anna said...

Great pictures! You are really making yourself a home there. I like the chandelers out on the trees too. I'm catching up on your blog this morning. Anna

April 16, 2008 9:19 AM

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Blogger Wretha said...

Thanks Anna, I don't know how much is making my self at home, and how much is just trying to find places for all of my stuff ;) Going from a 3 bedroom home to a 16x16 one room cabin, you have few choices, sell it, give it away, throw it away, or try to protect it while storing it outside until we build a big enough place to keep it. There is another option, paid storage units, but that isn't an option for us, don't need another bill... so the results are chandeliers in the trees.

Honestly I have made myself at home here, I pinch myself everyday to see if I'm really here and doing this! I love doing this! :)

Wretha

April 16, 2008 11:30 AM